Prompt:Write a story beginning with these words: She never let him
She never let him babysit his grandson anymore.
Now his daughter was in a bind. She had back-to-back conference calls and needed someone to take Timmy out of the house for an hour. In her desperation, he was being offered a reprieve.
His journey to child care limbo began with an episode that occurred six months ago while he was watching the boy.
There was no way the punishment matched the crime, in his opinion.
They were all in Boston for a wedding and staying at the same hotel. His wife and daughter had salon appointments and he and Tim were hanging out in the hotel room. He wanted to take the boy swimming at the indoor pool, but this was vetoed by his daughter for safety reasons. She was definitely the over-protective sort.
“Just stay in the room, Dad, and let him watch TV.”
To say Timmy, was “active” was like saying a tornado was a “bit of a blow.”
And that night his normal energy was complimented by one juice box too many.
After he had pushed every button on the TV, air-conditioner and microwave a dozen times, he wanted to play with the phone.
“Does your mother let you do that?,” he asked, his boiler plate question.
“Sure,” the boy said, his boiler plate reply.
Within minutes of his pushing the various buttons, the front desk called to inquire if there was an emergency, since a 911 call was placed. He said that it was just his grandson playing on the phone. The clerk said that the police would be coming to the room in a few minutes as a matter of policy.
Soon a clearly not amused police officer arrived and issued him a scolding for allowing the child to play with a live phone.
When his daughter learned of the episode she said: “Dad, I can’t trust you with him, so I am not allowing you to sit him anymore. Yes, we let him play with the phone, but we unplug it from the wall first.” He hadn’t thought of that. “Timmy could have been arrested,” she continued.
“Oh, lighten up. He is a three and a half year old,”
“Well, we live in a society where kindergartners are arrested for pointing their fingers at each other and going bang. Making a bogus 911 call seems more serious than that.
Definitely over-protective, he thought. The boy adores dogs yet this is a woman who won’t let her son have one because of the germs and ticks it might bring into the house.
He greatly missed his time with his grandson. Like him, Timmy was a car and truck guy and loved anything with wheels. He longed to take him to car shows, the truck museum and maybe even a demolition derby, if they still held them. Now he was grounded, busted, on the "don't call" babysitting list.
They were two peas in a pod. The boy had even adopted his favorite family-friendly expletive: Jiminy Crickets. He would chuckle every time Timmy would shout it out: “Jiminy Crickets, Pop, look at that hook and ladder!” His wife had told their daughter: “Timmy and your dad are so much alike.” “Yeah, they both think like four year olds,” she had responded.
His mission this morning was clearly and strictly defined: he was to take Timmy across the street to the city park and let him play, closely supervised, in the new, up to code, Federally approved playground for one hour and then return him to his home.
He and Timmy entered the playground through the front gate. The area was sealed off from the park by an eight foot high, ersatz wrought iron fence. A child could only “escape” through the front entrance.
He found himself a place to sit near the front gate and turned Timmy loose. The boy ran up to a group of children and shouted in his usual enthusiastic way: “hey kids, let’s play.” And the game was on. He didn’t read. He just carefully watched them run up the towers and zoom down the slides.
He noticed a woman walking a golden retriever, Tim's favorite breed, just beyond the fence. He saw his grandson run over to pet the dog. As he reached between the bars, the dog pulled away slightly, so that Tim had to put his head and shoulder through to reach. When he pulled back, his head remained on the other side. “I’m stuck, I’m stuck. Pop, help!”, he cried.
“Alright, your head went in, I am sure it will come back out,” he said as he gently turned the boys head and attempted to guide it out. It was stuck. He pulled a little harder with no result. Now the boy began to strain and frantically attempted to pull his head through the bars with such violence his ears turned red.
People and other children were starting to gather around the site of the unfolding drama. One woman said that she had baby oil and suggested that he grease the boys head. “No,no. Don’t grease my head,” Timmy cried.
“No one is going to grease your head. I am just going to put some on the bars to see if it helps.” It didn’t.
A youngish man wearing a white polo shirt and a whistle on a lanyard approached.
“What’s going on here?, he asked.
He explained the situation and the man identified himself as the playground director.
“You allowed him to stick his head through the fence?", the director asked accusingly.
“I didn’t allow him, he was through before I could stop him.”
Now a crowd was starting to gather and some were holding up their cell phones and iPads.
“I’m calling the fire department. Maybe, they can use the Jaws of Life to get him out. You, of course, are responsible for any damages.” For the first time, the boy started to cry. He was feeling a lump in his throat himself.
“It’s okay, Timmy, they'll come in their fire truck and get you out.
“A pumper?”, he asked, calming down.
Soon, two young firemen approached the scene.
“Well, young man, what have we gotten ourselves into here?”, one of them asked with a smile. “Are you hurt?”
The boy responded that his ears stung, but he was okay.
“Can I have a ride in the fire truck?”, he asked.
The fireman laughed. “We have to get you out first. You can not only have a ride, but because you have been such a brave little dude, we will take you to the fire house for a tour and ice cream. How's that?”
The firemen got a small screw jack from their truck, placed it between the bars, and after a few twists, Timmy was free.
He pumped his fists, jumped up and down and hollered “Jiminy Crickets! Jiminy Crickets!”
As they walked home from the firehouse, he said to the boy: “Tim, I think it is better if you don’t mention what happened at the playground today to your mom.”
“Well, it may get you in trouble and it will certainly get Pop in trouble.”
This was going the route their conversations usually went: down the whyway.
“Let’s just cross our pinkies and pledge this will be our secret.”
When they got in the door his daughter asked: “Where the devil have you been?”
“ I got a ride on a fire truck!” Timmie blurted out.
“Er, yes, they were having a community day at the fire house and they were giving free rides and ice cream to all the kids.”
“That’s great, Dad, that you knew that was going on. He loves his fire trucks.”
That evening the phone rang.
“Guess who I just saw on the six o’clock news and guess who is going viral on YouTube?”, his daughter asked.
His heart sank. The jig was up. No more fun with Timmy.
“So I’m back on the “don’t call” list?”
“No, Dad, Timmy adores you. I couldn’t do that to him, or you, again. Besides someone at Disney saw the clip of him jumping up and down yelling “Jiminy Crickets” after he was released and offered us a free trip to Disney World. They said they are re-releasing "Pinocchio" and this was better PR than all those Super Bowl dudes saying they were going there. We were wondering if you and mom could come along?”
After he put the phone down, he began jumping around the room, pumping his fists and yelling “Jiminy Crickets! Jiminy Crickets!”